Feb. 5, 2013
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - The California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association will present Cal men's golf head coach Steve Desimone with the prestigious Jack Lemmon Ambassador of Golf Award on Tuesday at the organization's 54th annual gala at The Inn at Spanish Bay. Desimone will be the first coach to receive the honor presented. The gala is being held two days before the first round of the 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Thursday.
"I'm not speechless very often, but I am very humbled by being selected for this wonderful award," Desimone said. "All you have to do is look at the recipients that have preceded me to know how special this award is. Jack Lemmon was one of the truly great guys in the world of golf and certainly in the movie industry. Being selected for an honor in his name, it really doesn't get much better than that."
Among players who have received the honor are Fuzzy Zoeller, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Ben Crenshaw, Billy Andrade and Brad Faxon. Included on the list of celebrity recipients are Clint Eastwood, Charles Schulz, Glenn Campbell, Huey Lewis, Ely Callaway, John Brodie and Frank Chirkinian.
"To be a part of the AT&T and a part of all the great people who will be honored that night is quite special," Desimone added. "It will be a very memorable night to celebrate with some very special people."
"The influence Steve has had on his players, other coaches, the alumni - and pretty much anyone who has been around him more than 10 seconds - makes him an ideal selection as the first coach to receive this honor," said CGWBA President Ed Vyeda. "Talk about someone who embodies the spirit of a golf ambassador."
The CGWBA will also honor former Pacific men's golf head coach Glen Albaugh (Golden State Award) and Sports Illustrated senior writer Alan Shipnuck (Distinguished Media Award) at the event. The Northern California Golf Association will also hold its annual Hall of Fame Celebration and present its 2013 Hall of Fame Class of Kay Cockerill, Roger Maltbie and Johnny Miller at the function.
Desimone is in his 34th season at the helm of the Cal men's golf team in 2012-13 and has his club off to its best start in school history and ranked on top of all the national polls. Desimone has led his program to sustained success over nearly three and a half decades and the school's lone men's golf national title in 2004, but the run his team has put together since the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign is unprecedented at Cal and perhaps nationally.
Cal won each of its five events during the 2012-13 fall season for the first time in school history on the heels of arguably the best season in school history in 2011-12 when Desimone was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the second time. His 2011-12 squad reached the national semifinals before falling just shy of the school's second NCAA title but posted a series of firsts along the way that included an NCAA Championship match-play quarterfinal victory, a trip to NCAA match play, NCAA Regional and Pac-12 titles, a school-record six tournament wins that doubled the previous record, and top-five finishes in each of the squad's 14 events.
In between the two seasons, Cal players made arguably the strongest showing ever by a collegiate program at the U.S. Amateur in August of 2012 when four of the team's national-best five qualifiers reached the Round of 64, with three advancing all the way to the quarterfinals. Michael Weaver would go on to reach the finals, while Brandon Hagy made the semis, Max Homa the Round of 32 and Michael Kim the Round of 64.
Prior to its current run, the program's highlight was at the 2004 NCAA Championship when Desimone orchestrated one of the greatest stories in the history of college golf as Cal came from eight strokes behind UCLA on the final day of competition to win the national title by six strokes over the Bruins. It was the culmination of a season in which the Bears had to overcome several injuries but were able to play their best golf when it counted the most. As a result of his team's impressive season, Desimone was named Golfweek's Collegiate Coach of the Year, and was honored as 2004 Grand Master of the Year by the Northern California Golf Association. All told, Desimone has directed Cal to eight NCAA championship events (1995, '98, '99, 2000, '04, '10, '11, '12) including a current school-record-tying stretch of three in a row, while the Bears have played in 17 NCAA Regionals (1990, '93, '95, '97, '98, '99, 2000, '01, '02, '03, '04, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12) with a current run of six straight that is two shy of the school-record eight in a row from 1997-2004. Cal has won 49 tournaments overall during Desimone's tenure.
Desimone was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2010.
Jack Lemmon Ambassador of Golf Award Recipients